Scrapes or Cuts

Small dangers that might result in minor cuts and scrapes are common. All it takes is a slight lapse in concentration to slash your finger, scrape your knee, or twist your ankle. While minor cuts and grazes are easy to deal with, others can cause serious injuries, like fractures or ruptured muscles. It’s important to seek medical assistance at least once if you’re experiencing severe pain, bleeding profusely, or are unsure about the situation.

What to do after you get cuts or scrapes?

Clean the Cut

Wash your hands with soap and water first.

Then, rinse the cut using cool water to eliminate dirt or debris. Hold the area under running water or pour clean water using a cup.

Stronger cleaning solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or rubbing alcohol, should not be used to treat minor cuts and scrapes since they may aggravate the wound. 

Stop the Bleeding

A modest amount of blood is nothing to be alarmed of. Smaller wounds and abrasions normally heal on their own (there are many blood veins in the head and hand, so cuts in these places may bleed more).

Use a clean cloth or gauze to apply hard, direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Continue to apply consistent pressure.

Raising the cloth or gauze to check on the wound may cause the lesion to bleed again. If blood leaks through the bandage, add more on top and continue to apply pressure.

If the cut is on your hand or arm, raise it over your head to help control the bleeding.

Cover the Cut

Once the bleeding has stopped, and the incision is clean, apply a sterile bandage or gauze pad and tape to cover it.

If the cut is minor and in a location that won't be soiled or rubbed by your clothes, you can leave it be. However, covering the wound is a good idea to help avoid infection or reopen the incision.

Replace the dressing or bandage daily or more frequently, depending on how often it becomes unclean.

Apply a small coating of antibiotic ointment before applying the bandage or gauze dressing to keep cuts and scrapes clean and moist and prevent scarring.

Home remedies for cuts and scrapes

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, minor cuts can be treated safely at home.

Here's how you can determine if a cut needs medical treatment:

  • If it's deep enough to reveal fat, muscle, or bone.
  • The wound has jagged edges or far-apart edges.
  • The wound is large, or blood is flowing or spurting from it.

For a minor cut, follow these steps:

  • Apply pressure to the wounded area for a few minutes using a tissue, gauze pad, or clean towel to stop the bleeding. 
  • Add more gauze or another cloth and apply extra pressure if the blood soaks through it.
  • Remove the gauze or towel only after you've applied pressure for several minutes, and observe if the bleeding has stopped (removing the cloth too frequently will cause the clot to break).
  • Seek medical attention if blood bursts from the cut or if it does not stop bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes of pressure. You may require stitches.
  • After the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound with cool water thoroughly. You can run water over the wound or pour water from a cup. This might result in some more bleeding. If so, continue to apply pressure as before.
  • Clean the skin around the wound with soap and wipe it using a gentle washcloth.
  • Keep soap away from the wound since it can cause inflammation. As hydrogen peroxide and iodine are toxic to live cells, they should not be applied directly to the wound.
  • To remove any leftover debris, glass, grit, or foreign materials from the wound, use tweezers cleaned with rubbing alcohol.

Symptoms of cuts and scrapes

The symptoms of cuts and grazes include:

  • Bleeding
  • Redness or swelling around the wound
  • Pain or irritation at the skin surface

Risk factors from cuts and scrapes


Infection is perhaps the most serious risk. The skin acts as a barrier against bacteria and other foreign invaders. Bacteria can enter and multiply inside while it is open, causing an infection. Infected wounds ooze pus and are warm and painful.

A fever might also develop. Infections can occur in soft tissues, bones, and organs.

An infection slows the healing of a wound. Hence a wound should be properly treated to avoid infection.


Gangrene can develop when the blood supply to a part of your body is cut off. This can be caused by an injury, an infection, or an underlying condition that affects your circulation.


Sepsis is the body's extreme response to an infection. It is a life-threatening medical situation. Sepsis occurs when an existing infection sets off a chain reaction throughout your body. Sepsis is caused by infections in the lungs, urinary tract, injuries on the skin, or gastrointestinal tract.

When to visit the doctor?

Most minor cuts and abrasions do not require medical attention. However, contact your doctor if:

  • The wound is on your face
  • The cut's margins are ragged or gape open, the incision is deep (1/4 inch or more), or fat or muscle is visible. These are indications that you may require stitches.
  • If you can't get all the dirt or debris out of the wound, it's because it was created by anything dirty or rusted. This may cause a serious infection.
  • You have a puncture or cut and have not gotten a tetanus injection in the last 5 years.
  • The wound is the result of an animal or human bite.
  • The affected area is numb.

Medical treatments for cuts and scrapes

Depending on the severity of the cut or scratch, there are numerous options for treatment. Pick from the following treatments to speed up the healing process:


Wound care drugs are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Antibiotic ointments can prevent a cut or scratch infection; painkillers help reduce discomfort and manage inflammation surrounding the wound, and topical lotions can be used to avoid swelling.


A cut may require healing stitches if it causes a large, open wound. If the wound becomes infected beyond repair, the affected region may need to be removed.

Time to recover

Most wounds and scratches heal quickly and do not require bandaging. They typically heal in 3 to 7 days. A large, deep scrape may take up to two weeks to heal. Some scrapes may also develop a scab.

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